Alchemist Lab Store

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)

Source Naturals

BCAA have an important role with decompensated cirrhosis patients. They prevent muscle wasting and help reduce deaths from all aspects of liver failure.

Bottle Contents: 240 Capsules

Dosage and Use: 3-6 capsules, 3 times daily

Time of Day: When convenient, there is much conflicting information on the best time to take this product.

Ingredients: L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, L-Glutamine, Zinc, B-6 as Pyridoxine HCL, B-12 as Cyanocobalamin

Other Ingredients: Gelatin (capsule), Silica, Magnesium Stearate

Cautions: Pregnancy

What it Does/How it Works:

L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, and L-Leucine are three of the nine essential amino acids. Essential aminos are ones that must be supplied by the diet. They are called branched-chained amino acids as they have straight branching chains of multiple carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms. This branching chain is unique among amino acids and these three are the only aminos to have that structure.

The L in front of aminos refers to Levorotatory (left) versus Dextrarotatory (right). It is actually what direction light bends when passing through a solution of the substance. Most amino acids occur in nature in the L form. Molecules that are mirror images of each other (enantiomers) can have very different effects in the body. Your left and right hands are mirror images.

Branched chained amino acids are used extensively by body builders. They build and repair muscle as well as help with muscle fatigue. The known and well studied mechanism of how they help cases of decompensated cirrhosis have to do with ammonia detoxification. As liver function becomes poor it is unable to clear ammonia. Ammonia excess poisons the brain resulting in hepatic encephalopathy. Secondary mechanisms to clear ammonia occur both in the skeletal muscles and in the brain. Muscles clear ammonia by contributing glutamate which is a substrate for ammonia detox. This process results in the atrophy of these muscles. Branched chained aminos rebuild & repair these muscles.

This is extremely important, as the image of death in liver failure from Hepatitis C is the same as a starving child — a big belly with stick figure arms and legs.

Ross-Fanelli et al (1982), found on PubMed, compared branched chained amino acids directly with Lactulose, which is the most commonly given medicine for high ammonia states. In patients with advanced hepatic encephalopathy, 47% of the lactulose patients returned to normal mental status, while 70% of the branched chained group were cleared. 

Japanese researchers led by D. Habu (2009) have found that taking BCAA helps maintain albumin levels. Generally cirrhosis, especially decompensated cirrhosis, is associated with low levels of BCAA. The most over-arching study on BCAA was done by Japanese researchers; Moriwaki et al (2008). They looked at many aspects of liver failure including: Ascites, peripheral edema, jaundice, HCC, rupture of varices, hepatic encephalopathy, and death from all causes, as well as looking at well-being. They found that taking BCAA improved all parameters.

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